Never Mirror a Narcissist



It is often stated that you should mirror the narcissist.

That is wrong. Such an act is contrary to your interests.

Those who make such a suggestion are wrong and evidencing their lack of understanding about our kind.

Why should you never mirror us? Let’s examine some examples.

Take for example word salad. If we engage in a word salad whereby you cannot follow the logic of what we are saying, we are doing this because it enables us to draw fuel from your frustrated, hurt and annoyed responses. You are a truth seeker and therefore, not knowing what we are, you continue to try to break through this word salad and get us to make sense, get us to see sense and toss the salad aside. We do not. We continue with it as it is gaining fuel for us and ensuring that we are rejecting the relevant (perceived) attack against us so that our superiority is maintained. The chief components of our manipulations are either

  1. Gain Pure Fuel – this is where there is no challenge or wounding;
  2. Gain fuel and assert our superiority – this in instances where you are providing us with challenge fuel. We are not wounded BUT you are challenging our superiority in some way and therefore we must respond in a way which makes you back down and enables us to assert our superiority once again;
  3. Gain fuel because you have wounded us, so this fuel heals the wound.

Accordingly, in a particular interaction with you we have utilised the manipulation that is a word salad. You decide to mirror us and respond with a word salad of your own.  Let us assume that you manage to do this without providing us any fuel with it – difficult, but you may be able to achieve it. These are the consequences.

  1. You will wound us. This is because you are not providing us with any fuel and you are noticeably mirroring us which we will perceive as you mocking us. This will wound us. You may think ‘that’s good, so why not do it?’  – the following points explain why you ought not to.
  2. This will cause an ignition of fury, most likely with the Lesser or Mid Range Narcissist and possibly with the Greater also. We may well have been using the word salad manipulation in the context of a Challenge Fuel situation. There was no ignition of fury then. There is now.
  3. The ignition of fury will result in a different manipulation being used against you. You have nullified the word salad but all we do is shift to a different manipulation.
  4. The ignition of fury will mean that this alternative manipulation will be an escalation. Given the circumstances this means that you are increasing your risk of violence being used against your person or your property. All schools of narcissist may well apply that against you in that moment. The Greater may control the fury so that you are punished at a later juncture, when you are least expecting this to happen and this will occur with malice. You have just increased the pain that will follow.
  5. You have signalled to the narcissist that you are trying to manipulate the narcissist. Predictably enough, this will not sit well with us. This will mean that we will now increase our efforts to exert control over you. Since you are in devaluation already, this devaluation will continue and will be increased to ensure that you are ‘brought to heel’.
  6. Your use of word salad will be used against you – we will bring it up against you in future instances to demonstrate that you do not know what you are talking about, we will tell other people about this behaviour and smear you in that regard, we may well use it as evidence with regard to some form of manipulation against you.
  7. The Greater Narcissist will realise that you are ‘on to us’ and therefore a careful mental note will be made about that fact. This means that alternative methods of manipulation will be used against you and you will be punished for your  behaviour. You have also tipped us off.
  8. You will not be in a position to keep the mirroring up for long without providing us with fuel. Although you have wounded us, when you start providing us with fuel again, this will address the wound that you have created, thus the mirroring has proven pointless and you have also risked the points raised above. It is very hard for a person to stop themselves from giving us fuel when there is a face to face interaction. You have to control what you say, how you say it, your body language, the look in your eyes and your facial expressions. That is difficult and often you do certain things unconsciously that will provide us with fuel. Accordingly, you cannot go for long in a face to face situation without providing us with fuel.
  9. You are hampered by the fact that you are honest, decent and usually consistent in your behaviours. Compare this with our kind where we operate with no sense of remorse, no guilt and no conscience. Guilt will start to creep in to what you are doing, pity, disgust with yourself for dropping to our level and so forth and this will have an adverse impact on you and your ability to mirror us.

What about other instances of mirroring us?

If we are shouting at you and you do the same back to us, all you are doing is provide us with fuel and that suits us perfectly well. Further, we can use your fierce temper against you, for instance by suddenly switching so that we wish to shield the children from mummy’s nasty temper. This shift in manipulation to triangulation is likely to catch you off-guard so that you feel guilty for doing this, feeling a need to explain the truth to the children about what has happened and then being pinned down by your honesty and decency because you do not want to drag the children into it. We do not care if we do, needs must.

If you try to triangulate us with someone else, we see through it. We will then use that as evidence of you being flirtatious, that you are having an affair, that you are selfish and self-absorbed. We will use this to smear you, attack you with an alternative manipulation  – for instance the Lesser Narcissist may well beat you up on the basis of your wounding behaviour. The Mid Range Narcissist may also physically attack you or will go around delivering Pity Plays as he talks about the fact you behaved like a slut at the party.

If you try to engage in blame-shifting, this will not work because this just amounts to a further attack against us and therefore by repeatedly trying to place the blame at our door you will either be wounding us or issuing challenge fuel. We are configured never to accept blame (unless there is a clear benefit in doing so) and therefore our narcissism will just defend us against this in the usual fashion, accordingly the mirroring will be ineffective.

There is one slight exception to this rule against mirroring us and this relates to absent silent treatments. If you mirror our behaviour by ignoring us also because you want to cause us to get in contact with you and stop the silent treatment then all you need to do is ignore us also. You do of course run the risk of being subjected to an alternative manipulation, however the difference is that with the absent silent treatment we will not be with you when we are wounded by you failing to respond to the silent treatment. Accordingly, we are more likely to seek fuel from a different appliance and then contact you thereafter and our fury will no longer be ignited. Of course, you may want the relative calm of an absent silent treatment and if that is the case then you ought not to mirror and instead provide some messages which would provide fuel. This will maintain the absent silent treatment.

With each manipulation, if you try to mirror it, it will backfire against you because we will see through it (and dependent on the school of narcissist this will always happen, it just depends how quickly this will occur) and there will be the consequences that I have described above. This mirroring is not in your best interests. Even if you think you will achieve some kind of victory by wounding us, it will only result in a bad outcome for you thereafter because we are different creatures.

Instead of mirroring our manipulations you ought to focus on

  1. Establishing and maintaining no contact;
  2. Being able to recognise the various manipulations that we deploy;
  3. Your increased knowledge will reduce the impact of the manipulation on you;
  4. Following the methods set out in ‘Escape’ which will enable you to deal with these manipulations in a way which will benefit you and not cause you additional problems which occur if you mirror us.

Do not mirror us. Your mirror will shatter first.


14 thoughts on “Never Mirror a Narcissist

  1. casleighmay says:

    This is incredibly helpful HG and comes just at the right time as I am trying to understand my own mirroring of others as a codependent. Thank you.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You’re welcome

  2. Zy says:

    Hi, HG.

    I’ve been reading and admiring your writing. Thank you so much for your work.

    If under the circumstance whereby I initiated the silent treatment due to my own insecurity, will this wound the narcisissist and cause devaluation?

    I don’t think I’m in the golden period anymore as he used to be anxious when I needed some time alone for thinking, happened for 3, 4 times. He even mentioned before my last retreat that he was afraid of losing me. However, this time around, it seems it has no longer impacted him.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You are welcome Zy and welcome to the blog. If you gave a narcissist a silent treatment then

      1. The narcissist may not notice. It would depend on the circumstances.
      2. The narcissist may initially gain Thought Fuel which would allay wounding.
      3. Often it will result in wounding.

      The response of the narcissist to that would be to assert control over you in the manner set out in “The 3 Assertions of Control”. I could give you a more accurate response if I was provided with more information. To that end you would be best served using this

  3. Presque Vu says:

    This is one of my worst traits for sure!!!!
    I can’t help myself in fighting back!
    This really is totally narcy of me because I want to win when I feel abused like when my stepdad went crazy. Small victories. Always left with guilt and trying to fix things after.
    This would explain why I was beaten so much as a child for defiance, I never knew it was defiance though.

    I keep seeing different things when I re-read these articles.


    Długo czytałam Twoje posty … pomagały mi…minęło dużo czasu…i zaczęłam się zastanawiać wnikliwiej co mówisz … Teraz mam wrażenie, że kreujesz narcyza a zarazem siebie, na osobę niezwyciężoną, która zawsze wygrywa… jakiegoś niezwyciężonego idola…Czy na pewno?…. Czy wiesz, że udręczenie w końcu mija i powraca własna wartość …i żaden narcyz już wtedy nie ma nic do powiedzenia. Staje się śmieszny a te gierki, które opisujesz wydają się być dziecięcymi dąsami. Po prostu nieistotne. Jest czas, że pomagasz ale któregoś dnia wszystko to staje się po prostu śmieszne i nic nie warte… kogo obchodzi co narcyz w swojej chorej główce uknuje … Teraz to tak jakbyś opowiadał o równoległym świecie dla ludzi “normalnych inaczej”. Kiedy wyjdziesz z tego świata wszystkie te porady wydają się ….”nieprzystające” żeby nie użyć mocniejszego słowa. Prezentujesz mechanizmy wmawiając ludziom, że to świat prawdziwy…a nie jest. Ale dziękuję Ci za wcześniej.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      That was some trip to the optician’s.

  5. Gosia says:

    this is super helpful. Thank you HG

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You are most welcome, Gosia.

  6. Intrepid Traveller says:

    This is a really good post. I have read it before but now, 2 years out, it resonates so much to me of how my ex behaved and the behaviour it caused in me. I found that i would mirror the narcissist without realising i was doing it. I got so fed up of the silent treatments i used to withdraw and let him continuously try to contact me with no response from me. (Though i now realise they were grand hoovers). But I definitely see that i mirrored other behaviours and when i look at other long term victims like my mother, Mother in Laws etc i see also how they took on the narcissists traits. Very interesting and very in depth thoughts come from this post

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Thank you IT.

  7. Sharyn Dorber says:

    Hi HG

    ‘Such an act is contrary to your interests.’ always liked this quote HG – it evokes old world care and protection from a Narc no less!

    You would make a great boyfriend 🙂 if you truly felt it. LOL.

    What do Narc’s actually think their potential victim’s interests are, in general?

    Of course this will vary with the individual, however really in this day and age, surely ignorance (even self imposed) is not a valid response.

    TY SD

    1. HG Tudor says:

      As you have recognised, it will vary, dependent on the individual and circumstance and as such is too detailed to address in a comment.

  8. K says:

    Needs must when the devil drives.

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